Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tactica: Dogs of War Heavy Cavalry RoR

Hello all, Slick here. In the last part of the Dogs of War cavalry tacticas we will be taking a look at the Heavy Cavalry Regiments of Renown.

Voland's Venators
Let us begin by taking a look at Voland's Venators which is easily one of the best Regiments of Renown available and should find a spot in most Dogs of War armies. For 195 points you get five knights including Voland himself. Best of all, the Venators are a Core choice and thus they keep those important Special and Rare slots open. The Venators differ from regular mercenary cavalry in that they have a base strength of 4, thus you will have Strength 6 on the charge! The Venators are definitely capable of being a hammer unit. Voland himself is a standard Captain-level hero and as far as gear is concerned the Venators come fully loaded: heavy armor, shield, barding, and a lance. The minimum unit size is five and it's worth paying for some extra Venators so that you can take a few casualties and not lose combat effectiveness. While these guys may not have the 1+ armor of Empire knights or the customization of Bretonnian knights, the Venators are the premiere mercenary heavy cavalry. Unlike most Regiments of Renown, the Venators are reasonably priced so that you are not sinking excessive points into them to build an effective unit.

Voland's Venators can pack a lot of power in a charge but they are best used in a combination charge, flank charging in support of one of your anvil or tarpit units or in concert with another hammer units such as Maneaters. As most players have experienced, cavalry always seem to suffer from rubber lance syndrome when you really need them to inflict serious damage on a charge. With so many 'ard units out there now, you really have to be careful about which ranked units you send the Venators at. For added punch you could try sticking a Captain with a lance in the unit for 9 S6 attacks on the charge. One tactic I have used with success is to have the Venators go for the frontal charge while I flank charge with my Captasus (Captain on Pegasus).

Tichi-Huichi's Raiders
Anyone who has read the rules for Tichi-Huichi's Raiders might be a bit surprised to see them discussed in a tactica on heavy cavalry. Indeed, the Raiders do lack several important characteristics typically associated with heavy cavalry, such as the ability to withstand attacks thanks to good armor saves and the ability to dish out serious damage. Instead, the Raiders are something of a hybrid light-heavy cavalry unit with a few interesting tactical wrinkles. Let me preface this portion of the tactica by saying that this is another one of those Regiments of Renown that have an excellent conceptual idea that is let down by rather mediocre rules and points cost. Let's start with the essentials - for 250 points you get six riders including Tichi-Huichi himself. Additional riders will set you back 22 points per model. The unit is equipped with spears, a scaly skin bonus (6+), and shields. Their lack of heavy armor is balanced by the fact that the Cold Ones grant a +2 armor save bonus rather than the typical +1. The unit does not come with barding, thus your expensive heavy cavalry clocks in with a 3+ save. Surely the Raiders can dish out damage? Not quite. A quick glance at the stats reveals the true weakness of this unit - at least in the role it seems intended to fill. Skinks are not meant to be close combat powerhouses and that is certainly the case here. While a 3+ armor save is decent, the paltry Toughness 2 of the riders (Tichi-Huichi is a whopping T3) means that the expensive Raiders are easily wounded. Their average strength is only Strength 4 on the charge so they definitely lack the punch to breakthrough most ranked units.

Let's take a quick look at the Special Rules the Raiders have as these do add some value to the unit. As with other Lizardmen, the Raiders have the Cold-Blooded special rule meaning that you should be able to pass most psychology tests with relatively little worry. Break tests are another matter as Tichi-Huichi only has an average leadership of 7. Taking a look at the mounts we see the aforementioned armor save bonus granted by the Cold Ones. Additionally, Cold Ones also casue fear but are subject to stupidity. Having Cold-Blooded here is really a blessing. The Cold Ones also have 2 attacks at Strength 4! Clearly the mounts are better than the riders in this case. Thus, the unit can actually dish out a respectable amount of medium strength attacks on a charge. Against light units they do have the ability to cause some mayhem, although your best to-hit roll with the regular riders is sadly going to be 4+. Nevertheless, if you can cause some casualties and make your armor saves, the autobreak from fear could see the Raiders defeating light units such as skirmishers, light cavalry, and smaller units of light infantry.

The Raiders also feature one more Special Rule that adds some interesting tactical possibilities if only the unit had some better rules, stats, and/or equipment to better suit this ability. If the Raiders are broken in combat, opponents will never pursue them. Thus, the unit is always guaranteed to escape. This is fortuitous as the unit will keep its banner since the enemy unit cannot pursue. The Raiders could have potentially been the ultimate hit-and-run unit. Unfortunately, to effectively use the unit in its current incarnation you really do not want to put them in positions where they will be easily broken. Do you really want to sacrifice really expensive cavalry? No, of course not. The types of units that the Raiders should be engaging are ones that should pose little danger of breaking them in combat. The types of units that can break you are likely to seriously maul the Raiders so that you will be left with a largely ineffective unit once they escape. If the Raiders had poisoned weapons I could see the value in sending them at an otherwise tough to beat unit and then run away. However, most killy units in the game nowadays can dish out copious amounts of high strength attacks, and there there are those which also have the Always Strikes First rule. You would have to take quite a few Raiders to have enough left against such units once you flee. This of course would be a serious point sink and would push the unit close to 400 points or more. I do think the Raiders could have some application although it would take some serious playtesting to get it right. Even then, the Raiders are simply overshadowed by the cheaper and better Ogre units available. If you have used the Raiders with any degree of success please feel free to share!

Hopefully you have found the above tactica useful!

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